Information Services Otago Limited

37 Sunbury Street
Andersons Bay
New Zealand

Telephone +64 03 454 6738
Fax +64 3 454 6808




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Systems Assistance

Modern software development tools are wonderful.  There is no doubt they have decreased the time – and therefore cost – of developing a system dramatically.

In some respects, they have also improved the quality of the systems produced.  In particular, the opportunity new techniques offer for users to sit with developers and see their ideas take place and develop on the spot is a huge advance.

As with all things though, there are disadvantages if the tools are not used sensibly.

There is a great temptation to jump straight in to system development.  Often this starts as “prototyping” or “proof of concept”, with the unwritten supposition that, once the concept is accepted, the “proper” development will commence with a rigorous design procedure.

The prototype seems so good though, it often seems best to just carry on and make it better.

That is a mistake.  It is like starting to build a house with nothing but a roll of carpet and an idea for a kitchen you like.   Most of us get so involved in the details we are looking at, we just don’t consider the bigger picture.  Eventually, but perhaps not until we have spent a lot of money, we find we have pieces of house which do not fit together.  Furthermore, they have no foundations to sit on!

You run the same risk when you start a system development by writing programmes.  They may be very good at what they do, but will they work together? – will they handle what is going to happen in the business next year? – do they fit the business strategy?

As computer systems become more pervasive and more complex, it is more important than ever for their development to be based upon sound analysis of the requirements.  Equally, it is important for the system design both to satisfy current requirements and to provide the flexibility you know will be important next month or next year.

The people who are best to write your programs are not always best to perform this analysis and design work.  The one requires a thorough understanding of technical matters.  The other requires a thorough understanding of how organisations operate.  But there is a limit to how many experts you can keep fully employed.  A Systems Assistance contract will make our expertise yours for as long as you need it, producing any or all of

*   A Systems Review of your existing procedures and organisational habits

*   A Functional Requirements Definition of what you and your staff think should happen; what should be computerised and what should be done by people

*   A System Design Specification, from which programmers may develop the code which fits your organisation and your needs

*   A Product Evaluation, indicating how well ready-made software fits your requirement

Rigorous analysis and requirements definition has further benefits too; as a basis for procedures documentation and for staff training; as the foundation for ISO qualification; as a yardstick for performance measurement and, perhaps most important of all, as a key to understanding exactly how your organisation operates from day to day.


The problem

The solution

What’s happening in my organisation?

A Systems Assistance Systems Review.

How should we do it?

A Systems Assistance Functional Requirements Definition.

How do I tell the programmer what I need?

A Systems Assistance  Design Specification.

Can I get an off-the-shelf package to do this?

A Systems Assistance Product Evaluation.